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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Equine Therapy

*Remember your local artisans, and work from home moms when you purchase your graduation, anniversary and wedding gifts this summer! I am a rep for a company specializing in personalized spectacular gifts, and there are many other women doing fantastic things to help their families out. Support work at home moms!*



You have probably all seen the various therapy modes available to people after an accident or stroke. At least, you have seen the ones located inside a rehabilitation clinic. But have you ever seen horses being used to help people recover? Well, believe it or not, it's done in our area! It's a bit of a drive, but nestled just outside of Bedford common, is a farm full of horses. And some strange contraptions in the riding pen.
The farm is owned by Stormie Shelton-Hazen, and the organization is called Astride with Pride. Stormie has a commitment to helping people using her own love of horses. Check out http://www.astridewithpride.org/
Therapeutic riding has many benefits, some of which are increased mobility, and strength, as well as bettering posture. For some disabled individuals, riding or trotting on the horse gives them the first impression of what it is like to run. Many of those items in the riding pen aren't going to be found in a show pen, but they help riders work on skills they may have lost.
The horse's hip movement simulates the human walk and jog, and this helps develop trunk control and muscle development in the rider. In many ways, this level of rehabilitation and freedom cannot be replicated in the traditional clinical setting.
Of course, horseback riding is good exercise for anyone, but because of places like Astride with Pride and also Many Blessings Farm- folks with cognitive and physical disabilities can experience the amazing experience of being on horseback.
If you or someone you know could benefit from equine therapy, please look into either farm. The Center for Pediatric Therapies is currently working in conjunction with Many Blessings Farm, also in Bedford county. Generally, both operations are always looking for volunteers to side walk or lead the horses for the riders, as well as help care for equipement and horses. Donations are always appreciated so that costs can be kept low for the families in need of therapy. So if you are looking for an opportunity to minister to your fellow human beings, this could be the thing for you!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Uncle and a half step dad?

My son Bruce and I were talking last night over coffee about how it is diffcult to come up with the proper nomenclature for various relatives we have any more. The general terms "dad", "mom", "step" and "half" don't seem to go together well with all of the arrangements.

I know it's common for some to say something like "well, that's because of the fragmentation of society!" but I don't know if that is really true or not. For instance, my father's mother died when he was born, so he was adopted by his father's brother.

This, of course, means that my dad really had two dads, one of which was "uncle dad"

Putting aside the West Virginia jokes for now (for those of you out of the country, the people of each state in the United States usually pick on some nearby state for being backwards and primitive. For those of us in Virginia, this state is West Virginia. Nobody knows who the West Virginians pick on), there has to be some kind of rhyme or reason to these names. Since my father had an "uncle dad", this means I have a "great uncle 'n dad" or something like that. This also means, of course, that I have great cousin-n-uncles.

The reason this came to this discussion was that my former wife, the mother of my son, was married for a while to a nice guy named Kenny. Kenny and Bruce, being family, like one another, so that even though he and my first wife are separated, they keep in touch. Kenny is Bruce's step-dad. But now Kenny is getting married again, which would make the woman, what? Bruce's double step mother? For Bruce's half sister, she will be his step mother. So this is his half step mother?

Are there no standards here? Some folks say the only thing that matters is blood relations, but I don't buy that. People enter into various legal arrangements, like adoption, where they care about each other and they are in all respects parents. Is there some sort of standard naming scheme for family members? Certainly with all the work we've done with programming languages, databases, and computer technology, somebody has come up with a standard family naming system, right? We've put a man on the moon, can't we come up with some system of family names?

And for those of you into gay marriage, polygamy, or animal friends, the situation gets even more complicated. If you have three mothers and each has several husbands, you're going to need something to put on those Christmas cards besides "Yo!"

Thursday, May 18, 2006

New Windows Media Beta Version Has Been Launched

Today Microsoft is launching a new version of Windows Media in a beta format. This version 11 looks completely different than the previous version 10 with a very clean looking interface.

They promise more features, more music, and the ability to access on other computers.

You can find the download for the beta program here.

Rainbow Marks Remembrance of Cyclist


The Roanoke Times is reporting:

According to the Virginia State Police, there were nine cyclists killed and 834
injured in crashes with motor vehicles in 2004, the latest year for which online
statistics are available.

Most recently in Roanoke, a man was killed after a car struck his bicycle Dec. 23. He died a few days later.

Yesterday marked a day when cyclists rode for those that have died on the roads. Jim Palmieri was one of the riders who rode out of Roanoke. His wife had died three years ago in a cycling accident. The next day, according to him a rainbow appeared.

Interestingly, another rainbow appeared during the ride yesterday.

We should all use caution when we see cyclist on the road giving them a large berth when we pass. We should also be aware that often they are harder to see. And during the spring, summer, and fall you will see more people on bikes.

On the Blue Ridge Parkway you often see cyclists and you should be extremely cautious when rounding corners.

Photos are from me, the rainbow was seen from Old Forest Road.

Leaves of Three Leave Be


WRIC in Richmond is reporting that this is the prime time to be infected by poison ivy.

The picture depicts poison ivy that I found growing on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

WRIC further reports:

Dr. Scott Greenfield of Patient First says poison ivy grows like wildfire
right now. Marked by its cluster of three leaves, it's the oil on the leaves and
vine that cause the cause the puffy itchy and red blisters. They usually fall in
a line right where the plant comes into contact with the skin.

Besides touching poison ivy, you should not burn it. If you breath the smoke you can infect your lungs. I have known several people that have had severe lung infections by exposure to the smoke, including my father who had to be put on a ventilator until he recovered.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Allergies: The Solution May Surprise You

As Summer approaches we all become familiar with the pollen count. Some of us have sniffles, others more severe effects. But what are allergies? And a deeper question why are they almost unknown in third world countries?

An allergy defined by Wikipedia:

An allergy or Type I hypersensitivity is a immune malfunction whereby a
person's body is hypersensitized to react immunologically to typically
nonimmunogenic substances. When a person is hypersensitized these substances are
known as allergens. The word allergy derives from the Greek words allos meaning
"other" and ergon meaning "reaction" or "reactivity".


There are two current theories on the reason for allergies one is genetic, but the other is far more interesting and most likely correct.

This is how I understand it. In third world countries people are constantly battling parasitic infections. The immune response systems, designed over millions of years makes responses. Sniffles are an attempt to shed yourself of the parasites. Sometimes there is a more dramatic response when your air ways close to deny entrance to fend of parasites.

In developed countries, the dangers of parasites have nearly been eliminated. But our immune system is still functioning and in the absence of parasites have found new inappropriate targets like pollen.

Knowing this history of how allergies happen, there is a current effort in research to re-introduce parasites to prevent allergic reactions.

This reported from The Observer in the UK:

A team of British scientists investigating whether a tiny tropical hookworm
could provide a cure for asthma and hay fever have committed the ultimate act of
bravery by infecting themselves with the parasite to observe the effects


This from a site called Damn Interesting:

At the University of Iowa, some people are drinking a regular dose of whipworm
eggs. The eggs hatch in the digestive tract, and the worms attach to the lining
of the intestine where they skim off a supply of nutrients. Again, the
side-effects are negligible, and most patients report a drastic reduction of
allergic symptoms. Just don’t look into the toilet bowl before you flush.


What we have eliminated from our past may need to be reintroduced to keep our immune system on track.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Read Mainstream Magazines Online Free

So what is your favorite magazine? Could it be Scientific America or perhaps you want to take a glimpse at Playboy. Now instead of perusing the magazine section of Barnes and Noble, you can browse online at Spot Bit.

They offer a large variety of mainstream magazines in Ezine format. It is easy to select what magazine you want by the front cover thumbs. Perhaps you are more interested in Woman's Day or Vanity, you have a choice of a large selection.

Google Launches New Service: Note Book

Here is a service that I will plan to ultilize. Organizing material has been one of the most challenging aspect of writing this blog, and now Google may be offering some help. It appears to be useful for anyone that wants to organize material and share it with others.

Google is reporting:

Clip and collect information as you browse the web.

Clip useful information.You can add clippings of text, images and links from web pages to your Google Notebook without ever leaving your browser window.

Organize your notes.You can create multiple notebooks, divide them into sections, and drag-and-drop your notes to stay organized.

Get access from anywhere.You can access your Google Notebooks from any computer by using your Google Accounts login.

Publish your notebook.You can share your Google Notebook with the world by making it public.
To learn more about Google Notebook, please visit our overview page.

Call free Through the US and Canada

In order to make free calls you need a microphone and speakers attached to your computer.

Skpe is reporting:

Is it really free? What are the strings attached?

Yes. It is really very, very free. There’s no prepayment, no minimum use, no subscription, no monthly fee, no nothing. You just download and install Skype and then you start calling. Both the caller and the number called must be in either the US or Canada. There are no strings attached.

The only condition is that we have said free SkypeOut within the US and Canada is guaranteed to last until the end of this year — that is, until December 31, 2006. We’re not quite sure yet what we will do after that. Maybe we extend the free period, maybe not. You’ll hear more about this towards the end of the year.

Until then, happy calling.

Madison Heights Gun Dealer Being Sued By New York City


In a story provided by WSLS that has few details, Webb's Sporting Good's in Madison Heights is being sued for illegally selling guns. The suit rests upon the idea that the gun dealer would have to have a suspicion that guns were going to be resold. A total of 15 dealers are being sued.

A suspicion of that would be hard to prove, especially because an individual in Virginia can only buy 3 guns per month. It would be a stretch to prove that the gun dealer would have suspicions about resale if the three gun allowance was not broken.

The News and Advance further elaborates on the story:

According to a press release from the New York City Mayor’s office, 15 guns used in crimes in New York City between 1994 and 2001 have been traced back to Webb’s store.

New York authorities hired private investigators to secretly video tape purchases at the 15 stores and reportedly made one video tape at Webb's store.

Harold “Webb” Babcock Jr. claims he has done nothing wrong.

Monday, May 15, 2006

20th Homeschool Carnival Has Arrived! Step Right Up!

I am the proud host of this weeks Homeschool Carnival! Boy...let me tell you, I have a new respect for carnies! It has been a lot of work, but I have enjoyed it! So stop by my blog and check it out. The entries are great and I have wrapped them up with interesting animal information and pictures! Enjoy!

Pass on a Smile

I remember hearing somewhere in your past that studies have shown if you smile at someone, they are then very likely to smile at someone else (be wary of doing this in other countries, the French are actually insulted by being smiled at because to them, you smile only at children...whatever!) Anyway...where was I...

Oh yes, passing on the smile. The same phenomenon has been noted with letting a car out ahead of you in traffic. Come on people, do you really have to get where you are going so fast, that you can't extend courtesy to another driver who is trying to leave the gas station during rush hour traffic! What studies have observed is person A lets person B enter traffic and shortly thereafter person B lets person C enter traffic. And good feelings are abounding here...smiles, waves...relaxed drivers! Sounds like a good situation to me!

So imagine my pleasure when I was reading from one of my favorite poet's books this morning and found she had written on the subject. So here, for your reading pleasure (and don't forget to pass on the smile) is her poem.

A Smile is Never Passe

by
Kathleen Melton Sihlanick

Have you ever stopped and given thought
To the distance a smile can go?
Have you ever seen a face light up
Because your smile made it so?

A smile can travel and change a life,
That's a startling fact.
Doesn't it seem impossible
That one smile could have such impact?

But it's true! You give your smile to someone
Who accepts...passes it on...
And that smile goes on an endless tour,
It becomes a phenomenon.

It chooses its own moment to travel,
Going through every continent and race.
One day you gasp...you recognize its return...
And from a most unlikely face!

It's condition is just as good
As the day you gave it away,
It's still in style...not outmoded...
You see a smile is never passe.

You grasp this gift and you hold it...
A moment only...it cannot with you stay.
This valued and priceless treasure
Is no good...unless given away!

Cutest Sleeping Animal Pictures Around

I have been looking around the web for animal pictures the last few days (something to do with hosting this weeks Homeschool Carnival...hint, hint) and I found this website I just had to share!

Plan to spend some time or if you need your children to be occupied for a bit, they will love this site!

The Google Library: 8th Wonder of the Modern World


Google is seeing the end of the tunnel, in digitalizing every book, and expression of media known to man. This has been no small accomplishment.


From the days of Sumerian clay tablets till now, humans have "published" at
least 32 million books, 750 million articles and essays, 25 million songs, 500
million images, 500,000 movies, 3 million videos, TV shows and short films and
100 billion public Web pages. All this material is currently contained in all
the libraries and archives of the world. From The New
York Times Magazine

Consolidating this in one large digital library is a feat to gigantic proportions.

The Alexandra Library of the ancients was the next best effort of recording all human knowledge. It was reported that it contained from 30 to 70 percent of all the world's knowledge at the time. Unfortunately, the library was lost.

Just to house the digital disks of the digital library would take a building perhaps a little larger than the Lynchburg Public Library. Well, that is today. Tomorrow it may fit in a device as small as an IPOD.

To read more on the Google effort to make one single digital library: The New York Times Magazine offers a 10 page article which covers this and more.

Picture of a Sumerian clay tablet.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Avoiding the Spam Magnets


Did you know? There is one phrase that if you enter in a search engine will make sure your in box is filled with spam. So be careful what you type in that search bar and avoid this: "Free Screensavers"

There are other dangerous spam prompting words that will point spam in your direction. You can read about them here.

Gulf Stream Delivers F-14

The flow of the Gulf Stream keeps Britain from becoming an ice waste land. And the current delivered something unexpected.

This from the Daily News:

Part of an Oceana-based F-14 Tomcat that crashed off the coast of Florida more
than three years ago arrived unexpectedly in Ireland late last week.


The plane had crashed years earlier.

30 years ago, I found a bottle on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with a note inside. Curious about the origin I found that it was set to sea by a group of primary students from a school that was less than five miles away. I relaunched the bottle near the Chesapeake bridge tunnel. There is no news on the arrival of the bottle.

John McCain: Address to Liberty University

Here is a link to most of the address of John McCain to Liberty University. If you are interested in reading his words, other than brief news summaries this is the place to go.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Meditation: Alters your Brain



Meditation has had both good and bad connotations over the years. Some people think it is plainly a waste of time. But there is a severe disconnect with what people think meditation is.

My earliest experiences with meditation was with my father. He was a practitioner of meditation, but he would never define what he did in terms of meditation.

He taught me to hunt by quietly sitting in the woods and letting the animals come to you. Fishing was much the same process. We would sit still while we fished, and without thinking our world's troubles we would be consumed by how our senses became attuned to the real world around us.

I have found that people associate meditation with Buddhism. And with the limited knowledge of the Buddhist steps of enlightenment, people understand Nirvana as reaching the end point of nothingness.

Well, we can thank our language barrier for presenting us with another mistranslation. How I understand Nirvana is "no one thing." But there are others that would argue, that "nirvāna can only be approximated by what it is not." But in a simplistic sense, my definition works for me.

Meditation has spanned many cultures and in many forms. How to define meditation itself is not that easy.

Here is an interesting caveat though, meditation has been found to alter the human brain.

This from Science News Den Daily:

"Our data suggest that meditation practice can promote cortical plasticity in
adults in areas important for cognitive and emotional processing and
well-being," says Sara Lazar, leader of the study and a psychologist at Harvard
Medical School.

To me, this is not surprising at all. Meditation has been part of my life for years, but how I define what I do may be very different than what you would suspect. If I were to give you simple instructions on meditation, I would just say find a quiet place to sit and use your senses to join the world that is happening around you. And there are other techniques that are all worth exploring, and trying. And soon you might find yourself discovering its value in every part of your life.

The Mark of Carl Hutcherson


There is no doubt that Carl Hutcherson has left his mark on the city of Lynchburg. He has had an impact on the city for nearly 70 years.

As you drive down past Trent's gas station, his portrait can still be found on a billboard. And now, his legacy has been interrupted by felony convictions.

It was odd to me to see his portrait so large, but you can easily drive by and miss it. In a sense, it reminded me of the portraits found in some foreign countries were despotic leaders plaster the walls with their own image. And even if this image was torn down, or toppled, Carl is still with us for the good and the bad that entered his life and our city.

Back at the Writer's Desk


Due to some personal issues I had to take a break from blogging for a bit. This however was only a temporary occurrence, and I plan to resume. Sometimes life gets in the way of your hobbies, and this could certainly be considered a hobby.

Some of my other hobbies include photography, in this break from blogging I have been putting efforts into refining my skills. This blog started as just a small adventure, just to do some writing: More or less a journal. One thing I never expected it would gain the popularity it has.

In the last year we have expanded, both in the number of people contributing and the pages we offer. And, for blogs we have developed a far reaching readership. This happened more by accident than design. And to fill the wants of our increased readership, we pushed the envelope in bringing you stories from across the internet. Some you may not have known about otherwise.

In this process we have made friends, and made some enemies. And oddly, some of our enemies are some of our most faithful readers.

Some have questioned why I have remained anonymous. There is no point in telling you who I am as far as I am concerned. I will tell you that I am a very shy person, nor do I want to attract attention to myself.

I personally do not want to become the story. And if you are wondering how far I believe that, I have refused interviews on WSET, my privacy is that important to me. I have also received both complements and threats, and I feel no need to say here I am so you can shake my hand or make my nose a target of your fist.

And there are other reasons to remain anonymous, which are private.

If you really made the effort and wanted to discover who I am, that really would not be that difficult. What I have provided to you here is an alternate forum of ideas: Ones that you can leave or take. And if you want to contribute to the process, the door is open. We always make room for new writers and look forward to your comments. The choice is yours.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Dragonflies Migrate like Birds!

WOW! First of all, I didn't know dragonflies migrated at all. Second of all, I want to know how they got the tiny radio transmitters onto the dragonflies belly! This is a fascinating story about a tiny creature that can fly 100 miles in a day! WOW!

Preparing for the Bird Flu

We all hope and pray that another pandemic will not occur, but we also know that there is a good likelihood that it will. And while we may like to pretend that our government will take care of us and the situation, we need to stand up and take responsibility for ourselves and our family. We have become a nation of people expecting others to take care of us (yes, this is a generalization, but I think an overall accurate one).

It is hard for us to imagine how a pandemic would affect us. What services would be diminished, and how the world would work. Here is an article that gives some good ideas on how to prepare your family and some insights on the way a pandemic could affect the flow of the world around us. Be a good Boy Scout and be prepared!

Video of Alligator Cradle for Alligator Hatchlings!

This is a cool video showing the maternal instinct of Alligator moms.

Not Monkeying Around, A New Genus has been discovered.

Photo description below.

This monkey has the distinction of being the first new mammalian genus announced in 83 years!!!!! Originally thought to be a new species, this cute little guy is in a class by himself as a new genus! The world is an amazing place and we are regularly finding out how much we don't know about it!

Another Reason To Exercise

Here is another reason to exercise! It turns out that several studies have shown that it can help reduce risk of cancer. This particular study showed a reduction in skin cancer in mice.

Exercise enhances a process called UVB-induced apoptosis, which means programmed cell death. This is a good thing: It kills sun-damaged cells.

"While UVB is triggering the development of tumors, exercise is counteracting the effect by stimulating the death of the developing cancer cells," said study leader Allan Conney of Rutgers University.

So not only does exercise help us lose weight and help our hearts to work better and strengthen our bodies, but it can help defeat cancer! Very cool!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Rare Mirage Lasts for Four Hours Off East China Shoreline


Here's something you don't see every day. A rare mirage in China lasted for over four hours. It took so long that many people got pictures of the event. You can see a ghost city coming out of the ocean, complete with crowds.

You can read more about it on this China news web site.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Political Round-up

I see Bob's not been posting for a while. Hey Bob! Come on back! We miss you.

I can never fill in for the big guy, but I thought I'd share with you guys my latest post about politics. It's a round-up of the political scene for all those people from overseas who might not understand what is going on this election year. I hope you enjoy it.

You can read the article over on my What To Fix blog. I'd copy it over here, but there are so many pictures it would take forever on this slow connection I have.

Keeping your Mouth Shut

Anybody who reads me knows i'm not a big fan of government security. I think that the government security in many areas has created a crises in faith in the government. Something like 70% of people think the government knows more about UFOs than it is telling us. Whatever you believe about UFOs has nothing to do with it -- such numbers indicate a problem in a democracy. A problem caused by too much secrecy.

I'm also not a big fan of keeping your mouth shut. A free and open press are vitally necessary to the health of the democracy.

But these lunatics who are running stories about how to launch better terrorist attacks?

One word.

Dumb.

After 9-11, many governments asked people to be more creative in anticipating terrorist attacks. I remember sitting down and having a mind exercise on how I would conduct a terorist attack.

It didn't take me too long to come up with a whole bunch of new ideas. Most of which are unstoppable. But did I write these down? Did I publish a book? Nope.

It wasn't the right thing to do.

I support the right of free speech even in cases like this where I disagree, but I also have the right to call such speech dangerous, dumb, and un-helpful.

Instead, maybe we should be thinking up ways to help prevent such attacks. I would suggest that a rules-based terrorism computer response unit (TCRU) be built. Such a system could contain millions of different possible terrorist attack scenarios and be able to give instantaneous analysis to leaders during an actual attack. There are too many twists and turns for even experts to keep up with during an actual event -- a computerized system could make recommendations and identify key trends more efficiently. The humans then would have better information to make decisions with. Ideas such as mine and other people's could be fed into the TCRU so that this informaiton (and suggested counter-measures) would be immediatly available. This might not be as easy as it first seems! Several scenarios might have contradictory repsonses, and dealing with the combinations will require advanced porgamming techniques.

At least it's an idea. A positive idea.

Survival of the Fittest: Women Living Longer

I ran across this interesting article that discusses some reasons why women outlive men. It is a phenomenon found across species, not just among humans. Now I know most men would say it is because we nag them to death! I have also heard that women live longer because they tend to let their emotions show and don't try to bottle things up inside. Maybe it is God's way of making up for the pain of childbirth and with the pains of raising children and husband;)



At any rate, this article feels that males engage in riskier behavior mostly to attract females or to maintain their role as top dog...er..human. And even though our life expectancies are longer now, and they don't have to do the same daring things they used to do to grab a gal's attention, their immunity system is genetically not as good as ours, because over the years, they haven't lived as long as us.



Interesting to think about.

20th Homeschool Carnival... Submissions wanted! This means you!

I will be hosting the next homeschool carnival on my homeschool blog which will be posted next week! I would love to have submissions from my many friends and readers!

The carnival is a great way to read a lot of interesting article from a variety of bloggers! The articles are all homeschooling related. They may have ideas for unit studies, schedules, curriculum, feelings about homeschooling. The types of articles are many and it is a great way to get people to come visit your blog and read your words of wisdom!

Here is the link to how you submit an article. So pick an article, either new or an older really good one and submit it for the next carnival! Thanks a bunch!

Ebay Secrets! A Sale!

For those of you who don't sell on Ebay, this next few days is the time to go! Of course, I am hoping your first stop will be by my ebay store where you can find great deals on great books! I always have a sale on Children/Homeschool books where you can buy 2 and get 1 free!

Then, after you have shopped at my store, feel free to browse other stores and auctions. You see, today was 10 cent listing day. Which means that people who sell on ebay spent their days with their eyes glued to the computer screen trying to launch as many listings as they possibly could between 12 am and 11:59 pm (west coast time). This means there will be tons of stuff out there for you to choose from and probably good deals to boot! When we pay less, we often ask less.

And last, but not least, for really good deals, click on the store listings links at the bottom of the page. Sometimes you can find what you are looking for for 1 penny plus shipping! No lie! Now, you won't find anything that inexpensive at my store, but there are still plenty of great buys!

Have fun!

Hamsters, like humans, eat more when stressed!

According to some very interesting recent studies, hamsters tend to eat more when stressed out and to gain weight. Unlike rats and mice, who went put in similar situations tend not to eat.

I have lived in a stressful life situation for many years..different stressors that I won't bore you or myself with, so now I have yet another excuse/reason why it has been easy for me to gain and hard to lose.

From the article:

Another line of inquiry would be to compare mice and rats to hamsters.

Humans and hamsters, which eat more under stress, share the same
predominant stress hormone, cortisol, noted Bartness, Rats and mice, which eat
less under stress, have a different primary stress hormone, corticosterone. This
raises the question of whether stress-induced increases in cortisol play a more
important role in the desire to eat and weight gain compared to
corticosterone.

Researchers will also want to know if drugs can
block stress-induced obesity, for example, by blocking the release of the stress
hormone, corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF), or by blocking the body’s CRF
receptors, Bartness said. CRF, also sometimes referred to as corticotrophin
releasing hormone, produces the body’s “fight or flight” response under stress
and helps kick off a cascade of physiological responses.

“There
are a whole suite of physiological responses that occur as a result of stress,”
Bartness said. It will take time to unravel all these physiological responses
and to use that knowledge to block stress-induced obesity. It may even turn out
that the reactions are too complex to easily block, he said.

So this makes me wonder if Cortislim really may be affective in weight loss. So many drugs are not. But maybe, they have really hit on something and it might be worth a try to add that to my weight loss program. If anyone has taken Cortislim, I would be interested in hearing your take on it. BTW, the site I am linking to for Cortislim appears to be their main site, but I have seen it in Walmart or Sam's recently, so you don't need to order it from there. Plus there were some other places offering it at good prices if you Google Cortislim.

Also, for those of you who have been following my increasingly intermittent posts about weight loss. I have lost 42 pounds, but have hit a plateau for the last month or so that I am trying to break through.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

19th Carnival of Homeschooling Is Up and Einstein is there!

Henry and Janine Cate over at Why Homeschool have this weeks Homeschool carnival up and running and Albert Einstein has something to say about the entries you will find there! Be sure to check it out!

Also, I will be hosting the 20th Homeschool carnival here next week! I would love to have your submissions to include in it! Here is the link to how you submit an article.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Jewels of the Heart

Jewels of the Heart
by
Kathleen Melton Sihlanick

God's gifts to me would fill a book
Which I could not compose
For my mind could ne'er recall
All the gifts which he bestowed.

The things I take for granted
As if they belong to me
Are gifts from the Heavenly Father
Which I ofttimes fail to see.

The gift of life, a Mother's love,
The beauty of the land,
The rippling joys of friendship...
These are all at His command.

The gift of sight, and sound, and speech,
A son whom I adore...
And though I oft forget and oft complain
How could I ask for more.

The colors of the sky at dawn
The twinkle of a star
All...gifts from the Heavenly Father
And all spectacular!

But outshining all these wondrous things
Which puts my soul at rest
Is the knowledge He is standing by
To know I'm truly blessed.

The peace and comfort of His love
When my world falls apart
These things I could not part with
They are jewels of the heart!

Deep Roots

Last year for my birthday, a friend gave me a devotional book called Breakfast with God. This morning's entry was called Deep Roots. It speaks volumes to me and I wanted to share it with you.

Deep Roots

So the, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:6-7


A writer for a local newspaper was interviewing a farmer about the effects of recent weather on his crops. Rain had been abundant and the farmer's soybean and corn crops were tall and lush.

"My crops are especially vulnerable right now," said the farmer. This statement took the reporter by surprise. He had planned to focus his article on the good harvest expected and the economic boom it would bring for the town.

The farmer went on, "Even a short drought could have a devastating effect."

"Why?" asked the reporter.

The farmer explained that while we see frequent rains as a benefit, during rainy times the plants are not required to push their roots deep in search of water. The roots remain near the surface, leaving the plants unprepared for drought.

His crop also faced the danger of sudden strong wind storms. Again, because of the shallow root structure, a strong wind could wipe him out in only a few minutes.

Some Christians enjoy an abundance of "rain showers" that come in the form of praise services, fellowship with other believers, and times of rich Bible teaching But when stress enters their lives, these same Christians can lose faith, abandon God, or believe God to be unfaithful. Why? Their roots have never pushed much below the surface.

Their spiritual life is top-heavy, relying on others more than on personal devotion in prayer and study of God's Word. They are especially vulnerable to the strong winds of adversity or the searing heat of stress.

Only the roots grown deep into God will help us endure tough times. Put your roots down more deeply today. Spend time with your Lord...in the Word...and on your knees.

Live Science

I have found a new website that I am in love with! It has a little bit of everything for people interested in science and has awesome photos and videos to boot!

Here you can get information on the top 20 science myths.

Here you can see amazing videos!

And then there are the images!

And much, much more! Warning...visiting this site could lead to you and your kids being glued to the computer screen for hours!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

batBack Roundup

We tracked a lot of fun articles last week on batBack on several blogs. Here's a recap of what you thought about dozens of articles in the batBack family:

Moon with a Screw Top was an article Daniel wrote on the blog WhatToFix.com It was a big hit! It swept every category. If you haven't read it yet, the readers like it a lot and you probably will too.

Friday, May 05, 2006

New Life in the Bermuda Triangle!

A 20 day study took place last month in one of the most mysterious places on earth. I have always been fasicnated with the plane and boat disappearances in the Bermuda triangle. Well, now they are finding life there never before seen anywhere else!



Go here for the complete article! And go here to see some lovely photos not only of these findings, but other neat natural phenomenon!

Free Book Drawing!

Just a reminder that my Usborne Book e-show ends on May 12th! If you want to read more about Usborne and their products go here:
Also, the consultant is offering a free book drawing if I get five or more orders. Here is the information on the cool book you could win!

Minerals
The world around us is made up of different materials, such as water, rocks and air. But what exactly are they, and how do they behave? Discover the chemistry of solids, liquids and gases, with examples from every day life, in this fascinating book. Clear explanations of hundreds of scientific terms. Illustrations and photographs in breathtaking close-up detail. Over 100 tested and approved Web sites. Experiments, activities and observations. Test-yourself study guides. Free downloadable pictures for homework and projects.

If you want to go directly to the site where my party is, here is the link for that!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Face to Face

A friend of mine from my local homeschool group has a blog at HSB. She also writes here at Lynchburg, VA. Mimi has recently published her first book of inspirational poetry called Face to Face. These poems will touch your soul! Check it out!

Here is a poem from Mimi's book, Face to Face.

Anointed to Succeed
by Mimi Thompson (adapted from "Face to Face")

Without question, God is the very essence of our lives
Invigorating the air that we breathe
Our unceasing supply of benevolence
Supplying graciously every need

He alone is the water of our souls that never runs dry
Filling to overflowing every area of our lives
Adorned in an array of glory,
Our Scepter of Salvation has neither beginning nor end
He ingeniously executes His sovereignty in demonstration
Of the divine order that all life comprehends

Our hearts are synchronized to the rhythm of His thunderous word
Beating strongly, anticipating His direction
Awakening the gifts He has stirred
We are carriers of His glory
Divinely appointed and ordained
Adhering to each request, our Father's call is not in vain

We are conquerors, for God is on our side
Having no fear of tomorrow, because in His love we abide
Ultimately unshaken and unhindered by life's winds
Proceeding steadily and bountifully on the course
Of our Father's ultimate dividends ~

Carl Hutcherson: Perspective From the Prosecution

Here is what the Federal prosecutors had to say about the case against Mayor Carl Hutcherson:


From the office of United States Attorney John L. Brownlee

May 2, 2006

LYNCHBURG MAYOR CARL HUTCHERSON CONVICTED OF DEFRAUDING SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY RECIPIENTS AND A CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION, MAKING FALSE STATEMENTS TO FEDERAL OFFICIALS AND BANK REPRESENTATIVES, AND OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE

United States Attorney John L. Brownlee announced today that Carl B. Hutcherson, age 62, of Lynchburg, Virginia, was convicted of defrauding two Social Security disability recipients, defrauding a charitable organization, making false statements, and obstructing a federal investigation by providing false information to a federal Grand Jury.

“The evidence showed beyond a reasonable doubt that Carl Hutcherson was taking advantage of citizens in our community that he had sworn to help and protect. In addition, Mr. Hutcherson was taking from his own charity in order to try to deal with his own financial difficulties,” said United States Attorney John Brownlee.

Hutcherson was convicted after a five day jury trial in United States District Court in Roanoke.
According to evidence presented by Criminal Chief Tom Bondurant and Assistant United States Attorney Bill Gould, Mr. Hutcherson had financial difficulties, and owed more than $100,000 to the Internal Revenue Service, and had failed to maintain balances in banking accounts that resulted in more than $22,000 in bank overdraft fees.

In response to his financial problems, Hutcherson solicited a donation from Falwell Ministries to Hutcherson’s own charity, the Trinity New Life Community Development Corporation. The evidence showed that a donation of $32,500.00 was made to Trinity New Life Community Development Corporation, where Hutcherson was the Chairperson, Director and Registered Agent.

It is established in the Articles of Incorporation of Trinity New Life Community Development Corporation that “[n]o part of the property or net earning of the Corporation shall inure to the benefit of or to be distributable to the Corporation’s directors, officers, or any private persons.”

However, the evidence showed that Hutcherson almost immediately took all but $1,000 from the charity’s account and put it in his own accounts. Hutcherson later used this money to pay a portion of his delinquent federal taxes.

The evidence also showed that Hutcherson was the representative payee for two social security disability recipients. Hutcherson took the social security money from the victims’ accounts and used it to purchase a stereo for himself, a mattress for another person, and to pay for his own cable bill. The evidence also showed that Hutcherson would write checks from the victims’ accounts to himself.

When Hutcherson was confronted with the evidence that he had stolen money from his charity, he provided false meeting minutes and a false list of a board of directors to investigators.

The investigation of the case was conducted by Special Agent Carl Bond for the Virginia State Police, Special Agent Christian Pettyjohn for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Resident Agent in Charge Rob Childress for the Social Security Administration. Criminal Chief Thomas J. Bondurant, Jr. And Assistant United States Attorney Bill Gould prosecuted the case.

No sentencing date has been set.

Penn State Innovation: Promises Fuel From Coal

Scientists at Penn State may have made a significant discovery that may cut imported oil for the aviation industry by half or perhaps even more.

This from Penn State:

The fuel, provisionally designated JP900, is produced in one of two processes
under investigation by Schubert. The process uses light cycle oil – a petroleum
byproduct -- and coal-derived refined chemical oil -- a byproduct of the coke
industry. The researchers mix the two components and add hydrogen. When
distilled, jet fuel comes off as a distillate. The process can be carried out in
existing refineries with some retrofitting and small amounts of the leftover
components will feed into various portions of the petroleum stream. The lighter
portions will go to the pool of chemicals that make gasoline and the heavier
ones go to the diesel or fuel oil streams.
With many alternative fuel ideas, solutions are years away. With this process, that can use existing technology at the refineries, more immediate solutions could be on their way.

Serial Prankster or Copycat: Glues Victims to Toilet Seats

Strange and deranged:

After reporting on such serious news lately, here is something a little lighter, but perhaps more serious for the victims of the serial toilet seat gluer.

Look before you leap is a childhood maxim that many of us has taken with us throughout our life. But perhaps you should also look before you sit.

It started on April fool day in Salisbury, Maryland. Some prankster spread glue on a toilet seat and caught an unsuspecting patron who became glued to the seat.

Then just a few days ago it happened in Walmart. Another victim was found glued to a toilet seat screaming for help.

Both victims had to be treated at a local hospital: Was the seat still attached, that was unreported.

Is this a serial prankster or a copycat? Who knows, but here is some advice look before you sit.

Source: Watercolor News

The Cloaking Effect

In Star Trek cloaking was sometimes not such an effective tactic for the Romulans. But now science fiction may have preceded reality once again.

This from the BBC News:

Nicolae Nicorovici and Graeme Milton propose that placing certain objects close
to a material called a superlens could make them appear to vanish.

The idea is that light can resonate like sound: get close enough to the resonation, and use the waves to cancel out each other. The same theory has been used with reducing noise in the past. They have now succeeded in working with dust, will they be moving on to bigger things?

High Tech Car Thieves

If you thought the keyless entry system that you find on many of the latest cars will defeat theives think again.

Here comes a report from LeftLane News "Gone in Twenty Minutes":

The expert gang suspected of stealing two of David Beckham’s BMW X5 SUVs in the
last six months did so by using software programs on a laptop to wirelessly break into the car’s computer, open the doors, and start the engine.
There is an advantage of driving old clunkers, besides effectively reducing your personal tax in Lynchburg Virginia, who on earth would pick your car to break in, or steal?

Friday: Plan an Exciting Evening

I recently received an email from Paddy Dougherty. She is one of Lynchburg Virginia's outstanding musical talents. From her email:

I'm also excited to announce an interview with Gene Marrano at WVTF
radio for the "Studio Virginia" show. The interview is Thursday, May
4, but I'm uncertain as to when it will air. You FM 89.1/89.5 (Lynchburg and Roanoke)
Please check their web site for other frequency options, or just enjoy the show every Thursday at 7:30PM.

On Friday, May 5 at 7:30 Paddy will be appearing at Givens Books.

But for a full evening go the the Bedford Central Library at 6 PM, and meet Mimi. She is part of the Lynchburg Virginia and will be signing her latest book. Some of her poetry is featured on our creative page. We are all proud to have her as a contributor to Lynchburg Virginia. And, I plan to be at both events.

To see some of Mimi's writing go to our Creative page.

To learn more about Paddy Dougherty go to her website were you can listen to some of her latest songs.

Royal Member Missing Since 1968 has been Found!

Apparently King Tut's private parts have been missing for some time. Their disappearance has led to great consternation on the part of those who study these things. But fortunately, a recent CAT scan found the missing part as well as other previously unfound treasures hidden in the sand around King Tut's Body. Phew...I am sure people were losing sleep over that one;)

Update for Blue Ridge Regional Authors Expo

Here is the list of authors participating in the Blue Ridge Regional Authors Expo this Friday May 5th at the Bedford Central Library starting at 6 p.m.:

6 p.m. Poetry, Short Story, and Humor

Frank Landry - True Tales of College Golf
Marion Higgins - When Men Move to the Basement
Jean Brobeck - Musings
Mimi Thompson - Face to Face
Becky Mushko - Where There's A Will

7 p.m. History and Biography

Tammy Brown - Too Sweet (children's biography)
Pamela Hain - A Confederate Chronicle: The Life of A Civil War Survivor
David Snead - An American Soldier in WWI and In Hostile Skies: An American B-24 Pilot in WW2

Peter Viemeister - Confederate Treasury Cover-up (historical fiction)
Bill Wenzel - Reality Revealed (Military Autobiography and Philosphy)

8 p.m. Fiction

Alice Williams - Remembering Piero
Sandra Eubank - Room 409
Jami Womack - Degree of Trust and Degree of Obsession
Sally Roseveare - Secrets at Spawning Run

Authors will be available for book sales and signing after their readings.

For more information please contact the Bedford Central Library @ 540-586-8911.
Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Thoughts on Mayor Hutcherson

After the verdict has been handed down on our Mayor, I have mixed thoughts. Here is a man who has dedicated his life to serving others, but he went astray. What bothers me the most is the Social Security fraud. He took advantage of those who could not help themselves and earned only 500 per month.

I imagine it started out as I will use this money now, but I will pay it back. And what happened continued as a pattern of commingling funds, his and those he was entrusted to help. It was a wrong path and led him down a slippery slope, and perhaps through rationalization he justified to himself his actions. And perhaps he forgot at times whose money was whose, and the logic and the self justification became foggier even to him.

But his first step in commingling the funds was wrong, he should have know this and understood the implications.

What also disturbed me was the point of the prosecution naming a mistress in the case. I bit my lip and did not comment on this. I waited to see if this was important to the prosecution's case. And as far as I can see from were I am sitting, this did not need to be brought out. After all, this was a trial of broken laws not broken morals. And no matter how you feel about the moral issues, what was germane here was the broken laws. And the judgement of the jury should not be clouded by what moral bounds the Mayor did not maintain.

Often I do not find myself agreeing with Rev Jerry Falwell, although I do at times. And though I cannot locate the written statement, that was read on WSET last night, I do remember the gist of what Jerry said. This is a time for compassion of all parties that have been hurt. My first thoughts are for the victims who could not take care of their meager funds. Then for the Mayor himself who fell prey to temptation in using their funds.

Now, there will be appeals, and sentencing. The Judge will lay down the sentence and most likely the appeals will fail. A great part of the sentence will be mitigated, and if the Mayor will spend real time in jail is still anyone's guess. My opinion, is that at least some jail time is appropriate, he should be held to the same standard every common citizen would face in similar circumstances.

Fat Lady Sings in Council Elections

It is all over but for the celebration and the pats on the backs for the losers. Out of the three winners, one stands out as a new comer Scott Garrett.

Dr Garrett who is 49 years old and a physician should hopefully bring new ideas and accountability to the city council. To his credit, he has been in attendance of city council meetings and plans to continue to do so until his term begins.

To become of a physician develops a deep sense of analytical thinking. Perhaps more so, than any other career path. We hope Dr Scott Garrett brings those resources to his seat on city council.

Personally, my votes were for Jason Campbell, Chuck Gammon, and my third choice was Dr Scott Garrett. It would have pleased me greatly if both Jason and Chuck could have been in the winner's circle, but that was not the case. My three choices were based on the following, accountability in government, out of the box thinking, and the reduction of taxes. These three issues will continue to be a focal point of my future posts. And I will continue to point out when the city makes achievements, as well as their failures.

Spending less creatively can often reap better results, than spending more. I have found that from my personal life, and work in the competitive market; public services; cities; and the State of Virginia.

We deserve better government at a lower cost and I will continue to present alternatives on how things can be done.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Projected Winners of the Lynchburg Council Election

You heard it here first.

Lynchburg has made its choice the projected winners are T. Scott Garrett, Joan F. Foster, and B. F. "Bert" Dodson Jr.
Lynchburg
City Council (3 Seats)
At LargePrecincts Reporting: 18 of 18 (100.00%)

Vote Totals
Percentage
T. Scott Garrett
4,771
15.56%
Joan F. Foster
4,648
15.16%
B. F. "Bert" Dodson Jr.

Mayor Guilty on All Accounts

WSET is reporting in their broadcast report that Mayor Carl Hutcherson is guilty on all accounts. WSET is planning an update at 11:00.

When Lynchburg Council Results Come in We Will be here

8:55 PM

As the precinicts report in we will be here to cover the latest results. This post will be updated as results are posted.




Vote Totals
Percentage
T. Scott Garrett
4,771
15.56%
Joan F. Foster
4,648
15.16%
B. F. "Bert" Dodson Jr.
4,436
14.47%
Edie M. Light
3,783
12.34%
Nathaniel X. "Nat" Marshall
3,397
11.08%
Chuck H. Gammon
3,130
10.21%
Joseph F. Freeman III
2,885
9.41%
James E. Coleman Jr.
1,632
5.32%
Jason P. Campbell
932
3.04%
Robert L. Bailey
581
1.90%
Robert S. Jarvis
324
1.06%
Anthony Howard
96
0.31%
Write-Ins
44
0.14%
View Details
Total: 30,659
-->

Strange Shoe in Closet in Amherst Leads to Arrest


Breaking news:

The woman was looking at the bottom of her closet, and noticed a shoe that didn't belong. Her first thoughts were for the safety of her children and she called 911. State, Amherst, and Lynchburg police responded in force and armed with automatic weapons.

A house had been robbed in Elon and the gun rack was emptied. Now in custody are two suspects. And because this woman noticed an odd shoe in her closet the suspects have been captured.

Source: WDBJ both broadcast and web reports.

Mayor Hutcherson Trial: The Defense Rest, Closing Statements Today

I would like to point you to stories in the local media about the trial of Mayor Hutcherson. One is from WSET and the other is from The News and Advance.

Once I read both accounts I wondered if they were at the same trial. What do you think?

And yet a third account.

Lynchburg Super Museum Weekend

Lynchburg: Super Museum Weekend; May 20-21.
The Lynchburg Area Museum Professionals group (LAMP), a newly formed consortium of individuals representing museums, cultural organizations, and historic sites in the greater Lynchburg region, is hosting “Super Museum Weekend” events on May 20 and 21. Participating organizations will offer free or reduced admission, and some will offer gift shop discounts. Visitors to the participating museums, cultural organizations, and historic sites can participate in a summer-long “passport” program. When they have their passports stamped, visitors to six or more LAMP organizations between Memorial Day and Labor Day will be eligible in for a commemorative prize drawing. A partial list (as of April 21, 2006) of participating LAMP organizations:
Lynchburg Museum System (Bragassa’s Toy Store and Point of Honor), Lynchburg
Old City Cemetery and Arboretum, Lynchburg
Amazement Square, The Rightmire Children’s Museum, Lynchburg
Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum, Lynchburg
Legacy Museum of African American History, Lynchburg
Sandusky, Lynchburg
Daura Gallery, Lynchburg College, Lynchburg
Maier Museum of Art, Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Lynchburg
Riverviews Artspace, Lynchburg
Amherst County Museum and Historical Society, Amherst
Red Hill, The Patrick Henry National Memorial, Brookneal
National D-Day Memorial, Bedford

Exercise Your Right To Vote: Council Candidate Election Today


There has been heavy turn out in the polls as expected. This could be a record for the May elections in Lynchburg.

During the lunch hour, the traffic was brisk. Two candidates were at this polling station. And greeting voters as they arrived.

With a field of 12 candidates, the voting is going to be hard to predict. The major age groups that appeared to be coming to the polls was the 50 and up crowd.



When I asked the registar how heavy the turn out has been she wiped her forehead, and said steady. When asked how it compared to a November election she said, "it was about the same." Which is an unusual occurrence for Lynchburg.

On exiting the poll, I received a demonstration of the new touch voting system, that we will see in November.

Ms Elaine McCain gave a detailed introduction to the machine and I would hope that all the polling sites had someone as clear as her for their demonstrations. When I asked if Diebold made the machine she said, "funny you should ask that I really don't know, but others have been asking the same thing." I just smiled. (The reason why I asked.)

There was a good deal of handing out campaign literature. My hope is that voters went to the polls informed on the issues, and voted who they thought could best serve the city.

If you have not yet voted: Exercise your right, you may have the power to help direct the future of our City.

Usborne Book E-Show

A friend of mine has just started selling Usborne books. If you have never seen these books for childen, you will definitely want to check them out. The prices are competitive, the books are beautiful and they even have books with internet links for further exploration. So with summer coming up, I am sure you are wanting to get some books for your children to peruse during their 'out of school' time. Or maybe for vacation. Or maybe you are starting to buy books for your homeschooling classes next year! Or maybe a birthday is coming up. Or maybe you are like me and you just love books and love buying them for your children!

So, take a few moments and check it out! There are books here for everyone's interest. Here is the official invite. Click on the link and visit my party:) And the best thing is, you don't have to use any gasoline to get there!

You are invited to an Usborne Books e-Show to explore the world of Usborne Books.

A child's interest in reading and learning is stimulated by the lavish illustrations and informative content.

There are over 1300 bright, colorful and fun titles covering activities, puzzles and a wide range of subjects for children of all ages.

Usborne Books - the books kids love to read!

Hosted by: Melissa Markham

Place: www.ubah.com/HOS58279

When: Today thru 5/12/2006 11:59:00 PM

Everyone is welcome, so invite a friend. It's a rewarding experience when a child opens a book and discovers the magic of reading.

Homeschool Carnival Week 18

Christine at The Thinking Mother is on the ball. She has launched the 18th Homeschool Carnival and it is a cornucopia of awesome ideas and information.

And I will say a little bit about her blog. It is one I read pretty much daily. She truly is the thinking mother and often has wonderful, insightful posts. So be sure to read some of her writing as well.

And as usual...you can find a post from me lurking about the carnival! Enjoy!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Easter Surprise At The White House

There was something we missed. It might have been a White House cover up that was pretty effective. It happened during the White House Easter Hunt and Spank the Donkey, brought it into the light. You can find it here.

Thanks to Waldo Jaquith for pointing us in the right direction.

President Bush let Zarqawi Slip Away

One of the big thorns in the side of the Democrats was how President Clinton let Bin Laden slip from our grasp in the Sudan. This received much press and after 9-11, the thorn dug deeper and characterized the Democrats as being soft on terrorism.

Turn about is fair play. It is now reported that the same has happened with Zarqawi. President Bush let him slip from our grasp. Zarqawi who has become prominent on the al-Qaeda top person list, was operating a terrorist training camp in Iraq.

This from The Washington Monthly:

Four Corners has gotten confirmation of the story from Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit:

He told Four Corners that during 2002, the Bush Administration received detailed intelligence about Zarqawi's training camp in Iraqi Kurdistan.
...."Almost every day we sent a package to the White House that had overhead imagery of the house he was staying in. It was a terrorist training camp...experimenting with ricin and anthrax...any collateral damage there would
have been terrorists."

What were the possible motives that President Bush had in leaving Zarqawi alone? You can read more from the Washington Monthly.

QOW: Should there be Another Armed Force in the US?

I've been thinking about this for a while now. Just what is the purpose of the US Military?

I mean, it used to be we had the services to defend the country. When there wasn't a war, we didn't have a War Department. Then, around 1880 or so, we had the armed services to "protect national interests." That meant keeping the sea lanes and ports open for commerce. But even then, in between wars we let the services run down a lot. We were lucky to have troops enough to get into WW II without losing the Pacific, and even that was really just poor planning on the part of the Japanese instead of anything we did.

Then we had to have DoD to fight the Russians. Now we have the war on terror. But something very unusual has happened along the way: we're paying more for less troops, and we've had massive mission creep.

Any more, you can see US forces delivering humanitarian aid, disaster relief, providing "peacekeeping" forces for governments who can't do it, or providing civil services to places all around the globe. These missions all require boots on the ground. Meanwhile, we're spending trillions (over time) in high tech gear to fight the Chinese some day -- or at least to deter the Chinese from acting stupid. The money is going for the gear, while the missions are spreading out all over the place for actual humans on the ground to complete.

It seems to me that having a definition of what you are trying to do is a pretty good way to measure how well you are doing. And just what is DoD trying to do? Can we put it in a sentence or two? I don't think so.

I think at the least we should have another branch of the armed forces for civilian work. Call it the "Civilian Corps" or something like that. You could try to make them non-combatants, but that would not work because of the need for military policemen and police/military operations. In either case, we do not need Marine units in the desert of Iraq performing civilian support roles. The Navy should not be tasking carrier groups to provide tsunami relief. It's not that these things are not important -- they're very important. They're just not what we're paying those guys to do.

So what do you think? Have we lost our way at the Department of Defense? Should we have a branch of service just for helping governments and people out, instead of blowing up things?

May Day Not the May Pole Event of Yesterday

Welcome to May Day, which has been commonly defined as labor day in most of the world other than the United States and the UK. The first of May means different things to different people, personally to me it means the day when spring really sets in. You can read more about the history of May Day on Wikipedia. One interesting little nugget of knowledge was May 1st, 1866 was the enactment day for the eight hour work week in the United States.

Oddly, the eight hour day is really not a standard in Virginia. In my last job my regular work day was 9 hours, without lunch or breaks and often extended to 12 hours. Some days I even worked as long as 20 hours. My work week was generally six days a week, but that often turned into seven. And I am not alone, many in Virginia work a similar schedule. So much for the eight hour day. But I am not complaining, I really enjoyed my work.

Today it will be marked by Mexicans in America boycotting work, school, and of course more demonstrations. But it will also be a day of rallies, and actions from the the other side of the immigration issue. From Michelle Malkin site is a listing of events across the country that will doubtfully get media coverage.

May Day is also the international distress call. When a pilot barks across his radio May Day, you know there is trouble. Mexicans who are now in our country, our demanding our attention. They say we cannot survive without them. They are arguing that the mass of illegals that are crossing our borders works as an important symbiosis that we as Americans cannot do without.

Personally, I am thinking of that great burrito that I get at a local Mexican restaurant. I would have a hard time thinking that it would no longer exist. But could I live without it, I think so. So this day, marked by their boycotts, and protests, which sounds like they are in so much distress, for finding a better life illegally in United States, is falling on my deaf ears.